Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway is one of the few tracks on the NASCAR schedule where Danica Patrick has a lot of experience.
Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has made seven starts at Sonoma dating back to 2005.
Those seven starts came in the IZOD IndyCar Series and unfortunately won’t offer much assistance to Patrick as she competes in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Sonoma.
About the only things familiar to Patrick will be the garage area, pit lane and portions of the track. The reason only portions of the track will be familiar is that the IndyCar Series used two different layouts during the seven years Patrick competed there and neither is identical to the 1.99-mile, 10-turn course she will drive on Sunday.
It will be Patrick’s first career Sprint Cup Series start on a road course and she is hoping her efforts produce better results than her three NASCAR Nationwide Series road-course finishes last year.
All three were memorable, if not downright strange.
In June at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., Patrick was fourth on the final lap when she was bumped into the gravel trap by Jacques Villeneueve, which caused her to finish 12th. Two months later, Patrick finished 43rd at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International after Ryan Truex spun in front of her on the start and she could not avoid his spinning car and made heavy contact with his machine.
But the strangest experience of all came one week later when Patrick led 20 laps and was on the point at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal when a fan threw a shoe onto the track and she ran over it on lap 38 of 81. Shortly thereafter, whether the shoe caused the problem or not, Patrick was forced to pit for mechanical repairs and finished 27th.
At Sonoma, Patrick is hoping to run a smooth and clean race, avoid any shoes on course, and build upon a solid 13th-place finish she and the GoDaddy team scored last week at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.